Scholars for Peace in the Middle East [SPME] have issued a scathing criticism of the UCU's motions proposing a boycott of Israeli academics. SPME seems to me to be somewhat leftwing, with many members opposed to the west-bank settlements; nevertheless they have spoken out against the boycott. Here, in part, is the SPME reaction:
[T]his action [was] instigated by a small group of anti-Israel union delegates who appear not to represent the views of the union membership and who have singled out Israel for opprobrium. The motion is an attempt to delegitimize and to silence the only Jewish state in the world, one of a tiny minority of states in the Middle East that truly honor academic freedom. In Israel's prestigious universities, faculty members represent all religious and political persuasions. Many Israeli professors are Arabs; many are Muslims. How professors at universities in Arab countries are Jews? How many are non-Muslims? How many belong to nondominant Muslim denominations?
In Iran, professors have been purged from universities for ideological and religious reasons, and an American academic, Haleh Esfandiari, was recently imprisoned while visiting her 93-year-old mother. Despite the gargantuan scale of human rights abuses in Sudan, Syria, China, Saudi Arabia, and, yes, Gaza, the UCU is not considering a boycott against any of them. Why not?
The proposed boycott is immoral and antithetical to academic principles. It shuts off dialogue, when one of the key purposes of universities is to promote dialogue and thereby the pursuit of truth. It ignores existing projects where Israeli and Palestinian academics cooperate. It requires academics to hew to one ideological line. And it constitutes discrimination on the basis of nationality.